EU should stop wasting money on projects nobody needs, says chief auditor ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Klaus-Heiner Lehne.
Klaus-Heiner Lehne. Source: (ERR)

The European Union’s budget is too rigid, lacks transparency, and is in need of reforms, the president of the European Court of Auditors, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, told ERR in an interview this week. Lehne also said that the court would pay more attention to the sensible use of EU funds, instead of only looking at the legal aspect.

Lehne said in his interview that while the court’s auditors previously concentrated on whether or not EU money is spent according to laws and regulations, they will now also take into account whether or not the money is spent reasonably. One example is the EU’s funding of ports in areas where plenty of the same kind of infrastructure already exists, Lehne said.

The union has also invested in the construction of airports where the future number of passengers and how to accommodate them wasn’t thought through, and where the infrastructure of the surrounding area was left out of the planning. The court wants to avoid this kind of unproductive investment in the future.

Lehne stressed the need to adapt the budget policy of the EU. Currently the approach wasn’t flexible enough, and couldn’t respond to quickly changing circumstances, for example like the migration crisis. In such situations so-called satellite budgets outside the realm of the EU’s actual budget were used, and these lack transparency, Lehne said.

The ineffective use of the EU’s financial means is mainly based on overly difficult regulation, Lehne said. This needed to change, especially where those areas were concerned that received very large subsidies, for example the agricultural sector.

Watch the full interview to hear what Lehne thinks about a joint budget for the eurozone, the economic impact of Brexit, the ineffective use of EU finds, and the need for a more harmonized EU.

Lehne visited Tallinn on the occasion of the ongoing Estonian EU council presidency. He met with Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), Finance Minister Toomas Tõnisson (IRL), members of the Riigikogu, and President Kersti Kaljulaid.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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